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Friends, relatives of victims to speak at McArthur sentencing hearing today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2019

A sentencing hearing continues today for Bruce McArthur, a serial killer who preyed on men from Toronto’s gay village for years before he was arrested.

Friends and relatives of McArthur’s eight victims are expected to continue reading their victim impact statements.

Many wept in court Monday as prosecutors provided previously unheard details of the killings, which took place between 2010 and 2017.

Crown attorney Michael Cantlon told the court McArthur took photographs of his victims’ bodies posed in various states of undress and kept the images on his computer.

Court heard McArthur would then dismember his victims and dump their remains in planters around a residential property in midtown Toronto, where he stored his landscaping equipment, or in a ravine behind the home.

Police arrested McArthur in January 2018 and charged him for the murders of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen. They later charged McArthur for the murders of Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.

He pleaded guilty last week to eight counts of first-degree murder.

Toronto police have faced criticism for how they investigated the eight men’s disappearances, with some saying the force ignored the LGTBQ’s concerns about a possible serial killer.

Flooding caused issues on the DVP

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2019

Flooding in Toronto overnight created traffic problems for drivers who were trying to take the Don Valley Parkway.

The southbound DVP from Richmond Street to the Gardiner Expressway, as well as the ramps, were closed. But everything reopened just before 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The issue on the DVP started just before midnight on Monday, initially causing the parkway to be closed from Bloor to the Gardiner.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority issued a flood warning just after midnight, saying that the warm temperatures caused widespread melting of snow around the GTA watersheds.

“Due to the potential for further snowmelt caused by above freezing temperatures in the region, rivers within the GTA will be experiencing higher flows and water levels, resulting in hazardous conditions,” the warning said.

“Ice jamming was also observed at the mouth of the Don River.”

The flood warning will be in effect until noon.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said a high of 10 C was already reached on Tuesday but the temperature will fall to -2 C this afternoon.

Trudeau speaks with Venezuelan leader Guaido ahead of key meeting of allies

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 4th, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says he has spoken with the man Canada and many of its allies consider the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

Trudeau’s office says he spoke with Juan Guaido about the need for countries to send a clear message about what the PMO calls “the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime.”

A statement from the PMO says the two also discussed the need to respect Venezuela’s constitution and to have free and fair presidential elections.

The call comes a day before Canada and its allies in the so-called Lima Group are set to meet in Ottawa.

The gathering of more than a dozen of Canada’s Western Hemisphere allies is meant to find new ways to support the Venezuelan opposition and ease the refugee crisis in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia

The agenda was still being finalized on Friday, in part because of the speed at which the Venezuelan crisis is unfolding.

Canada has already contributed $2.2 million for the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela that has forced three million people from their homes.

Trudeau’s office says he told Guaido that Monday’s meeting will look at any ways countries can “can further support the people of Venezuela, including through immediate humanitarian assistance.

“The prime minister commended Juan Guaido for his courage and leadership in helping to return democracy to Venezuela and offered Canada’s continued support,” the statement says.

Toronto MP Adam Vaughan apologizes for ‘whack’ tweet aimed at Premier Doug Ford

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 4th, 2019

A Liberal MP from Toronto has apologized for a tweet sent Saturday morning that many on Twitter took as a threat against Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Adam Vaughan said sorry for tweeting that people should “whack” Ford, hours after defending it as a reference to the game whack-a-mole where players hold a mallet and hit targets – or moles – as they randomly pop up from a board.

Vaughan has been critical of the Ford government’s policies in Ontario, continuing criticisms that go back to when the two sat on Toronto city council.

Before entering federal politics in 2014, Vaughan often took aim at the policies of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, Doug Ford’s brother who died in 2016.

Vaughan’s original tweet late Saturday morning was in response to a tweet noting the Ontario Progressive Conservatives had backed away from talk about cancelling full-day kindergarten in the province.

The Liberal MP suggested in a tweet that the Ford government raised the idea so residents would get “upset over hurting Kindergarten students instead of being angry over the damage he’s done to University students.”

“Next he will go after young offenders & end “free school” in detention centres … instead of playing whack-a-mole; Let’s just whack him.”

As responses from Twitter users rolled in questioning his use of language, Vaughan repeatedly tweeted pictures of a whack-a-mole game with a picture of Ford’s face placed on the targets in the game, and screen capture of the online Collins Dictionary entry for “whack.”

“If someone whacks you, they defeat you easily in a game or competition,” the screen capture reads.

The next entry on the website adds this definition: “To whack someone means to kill them.”

Vaughan at one point tweeted that he had been contacted by a lawyer “representing the Moles of Ontario,” who resented the comparison. “I’ve tried to reach out, but apparently they are an underground organization.”

By Saturday night, Vaughan apologized. In a statement posted to Twitter to anyone who was offended and “missed the original cartoon,” without which “the comment lacks context.”

“Whack was a reference to whack-a-mole,” Vaughan wrote.

“It was never my intent to suggest anyone, anywhere should inflict real physical harm to Premier Ford. To those who took offence, I’m sorry.”

General Motors disputes UNIFOR’s Super Bowl ad

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 4th, 2019

The Canadian subsidiary of General Motors has tried to stop an autoworkers’ union from airing a critical TV commercial during the Super Bowl, but the union said it planned to move forward with the ad regardless.

The 30-second ad, paid for Unifor, calls the automaker greedy and “un-Canadian.” It was scheduled to broadcast on Canadian TV stations during Sunday’s game.

GM sent a cease-and-desist letter to Unifor on Friday giving it a Saturday deadline to stop using the ad, but Unifor president Jerry Dias said Sunday that the union had no plans to back off.

“I didn’t pick this fight, GM picked this fight. I’m going to do everything humanely possible to get their attention,” Dias said in an interview.

GM announced plans in November to close its car factory in Oshawa, Ont., costing the jobs of about 2,600 blue-collar workers.

The commercial accuses GM of continuing to expand in Mexico while leaving Canadians “out in the cold,” and also references the federal government’s 2009 bailout of GM and Chrysler.

Unifor Canada Video: https://youtu.be/QEAAz3fr2EU

A statement from GM on Sunday said the company respects the union’s right to protest, but accused the Super Bowl ad of “misleading the Canadian public.”

Dias said the union hopes to continue bringing attention to the closure by buying more airtime for its ad on other programs, such as the Golden Globes and Maple Leaf games.

“They can bring all the lawyers they want. They’re not going to win this in a courtroom,” said Dias. “We are not going to fold and they can sue all they want.”

Last month, Unifor called for a boycott of GM vehicles made in Mexico as part of its campaign to save the Oshawa assembly plant, but the company has remained firm in its plans to close the facility.

Patriots beat Rams for sixth Super Bowl

KYLE HIGHTOWER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 4th, 2019

For most of the season the New England Patriots have been creatures of habit on defence, sticking to their principles and making just enough plays to win.

They were much more than that Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Patriots battered and bewildered quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams, stifling the NFL’s second-ranked scoring en route to a 13-3 Super Bowl victory.

New England quarterback Tom Brady said the Patriots’ defence set the tone.

“They played unbelievable,” Brady said. “Challenged all these plays. …. They held them.”

When Goff began to find his grove late in the fourth quarter and the Rams trailing 10-3, Los Angeles drove inside New England’s 30 for just the second time in the game. The momentum proved to be short-lived. Enter safety Duron Harmon.

Playing in place of Patrick Chung after he suffered an arm injury in third quarter, Harmon combined with cornerback Stephon Gilmore to break up what would have been a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks in the end zone. Then, on the next play, Harmon pressured Goff on a blitz and forced him into a throw into coverage that was intercepted by Gilmore.

“It was clutch,” Gilmore said of his interception. “I knew he was going to force it up there. Our defensive line put a lot of pressure on him and he chucked it up there and I was able to make a play.”

New England’s offence took it from there, sealing the victory with a 9-play, 72-yard drive that ate up 3:05 and ended with a 41-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

The Patriots’ defence gave Goff different looks all night and many of them seemed to confuse the 24-year-old quarterback. They routinely sent an extra deep safety on third-and-short situations and disguised their blitzes up the middle. The latter benefited linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who dropped Goff for a pair of sacks to stunt drives.

New England finished with four sacks for the game.

It added up to an abysmal performance by Los Angeles on third-down situations. The Rams were 0 for 6 on third down in the first half and 3 of 13 for game. New England also held Los Angeles to just 260 total yards. None of the Rams’ running backs were able to get much traction, either.

Los Angeles, which entered the game averaging 175 rushing yards per game during the playoffs with four touchdowns, mustered just 3.4 yards per rush on third down. All-Pro running back Todd Gurley finished with 10 rushes for 35 yards. C.J. Anderson, who had 167 yards and two touchdowns through two playoff games, had seven carries for 22 yards.

New England bailed Goff out early in the fourth quarter when Gilmore was called for defensive holding on Goff’s third-and-11 pass attempt, giving the Rams a fresh set of downs. But the Patriots recovered and used a sack by Jonathan Jones, holding penalty and threw Gurley for a loss to force a punt.

It was the second straight impressive performance by the Pats’ defence.

In the AFC championship game the Patriots held the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL’s top-scoring offence during the regular season, scoreless in the first half. They held the Rams, which averaged 32.9 points per game during the regular season and 28 points in the playoffs, to just three points.

Crews continue to battle massive fire at Agincourt Recreation Centre

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Feb 1st, 2019

Fire crews remain on scene more than 12 hours after a massive fire broke out at a recreation centre in Scarborough.

Police and fire services initially responded to a call for a two-alarm fire at the Agincourt Recreation Centre at Glen Watford Drive and Rural Avenue around 4:45 p.m.

The fire was quickly upgraded to a four-alarm blaze due to the cold, which made is necessary to call in more trucks in order to rotate crews battling the blaze in frigid temperatures. Around 15 units and close to 50 firefighters were on scene.

The recreation centre was active and open when the fire broke out and was evacuated shortly after.

Shortly after 6 p.m., a full evacuation of the building was ordered and fire crews were also removed from the building.

Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the order was given as a precautionary measure.

“The vast majority of this fire appears to be above their heads in the roof area. So that presents a hazardous condition for them,” he said, adding that defensive operations were continuing from outside the structure.

Police said there were hazardous chemicals inside the building as it houses a swimming pool and an arena and the smoke could be toxic.

Chief Pegg said heavy hazardous materials crews were able to isolate the chemicals used for pool and arena maintenance around 7 p.m.

A few people ran out of the recreation centre in swimsuits and shorts and were placed in warming buses. Some were reportedly being assessed on scene but no injuries were reported.

Due to the fire, students and staff at Sir Alexander Mackenzie Senior Public School were relocated to Agincourt Collegiate Institute for classes on Friday. Staff and students at St. Bartholomew will attend St. Ignatius of Loyola.

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